New Upside Down Tomato Planters

One of my new tomato planters

One of my new tomato planters

A few years ago I made my own upside down tomato planters from fabric and wire baskets. They ended up working fabulously well and lasted for 3 seasons, but this spring I decided that they were looking a little worn out. Time for new planters.

I took three pails which I already had and drilled a one inch hole in the bottom of each. Then I drilled out a spot where there had once been a handle and used a coat hanger to make a new handle. I decided that the red color wasn’t right, so I spray painted them in a new moss green.

To place the tomato plants in the pail I first wrapped them with saran wrap, then gently poked them through the hole until they were safely through. I added soil and adjusted until the plants were at the correct depth. After adding more moisture control soil, I  planted a wave petunia on top. Overall I think the new planters turned out pretty well and they cost me only $10 for the paint (which I could have done without).

Pails

Pails

Drilling holes
Drilling holes

Add the coat hanger
Add the coat hanger

Wrap and insert the tomato plant
Wrap and insert the tomato plant

Add a petunia and voila
Add a petunia and voila

 

 

 

 

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2012 in Review: Over 15,000 Views!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 15,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Salsa: Summer in a Mason Jar

Canned and Ready for Eating

Salsa is one of my favorite things to eat during the long months of winter. It reminds me of all the good things I grew over the summer, and combines all of my favorite flavors. I love the zest of garlic, the scent of cilantro, the punch of the hot peppers.

I made my salsa as soon as I had 3kg of Roma tomatoes, even though I’m likely to get a bunch more in the coming weeks. Those will be for making tomato sauce, another favorite.

Here’s my salsa recipe (adapted from this recipe):

Garden Salsa

Blanch, peel and core 3 kg Roma tomatoes. Chop them coarsely then layer with a sprinkling of pickling salt in a colander over a pot. Let them sit overnight in a cool place, allowing much of the liquid to drain.

The next morning, start chopping. You can use a food processor if you like, but I prefer to chop by hand to get a chunkier salsa (with the exception of the peppers – those I use the food processor for).

Including the tomatoes, chop and add to a stock pot:

3 medium onions

1 large head garlic

200 g Serrano peppers

1 medium green pepper

1/2 medium red pepper

3/4 bunch cilantro

1/8 C cumin seed, ground

1/2 can (3 oz) tomato paste

Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. It’s now ready to can. When canning, add 1 tbsp lime juice to the bottom of each 250 ml jar or 2 tbsp to a 500 ml jar. This increases the acidity and makes for safer water bath canning of tomatoes. Please refer to another website such as this for canning instructions.

Makes 2 liters of salsa.

Making Salsa

Sheet Mulching Update: Nine Months Later

In October of 2011 I was the host of a Sheet Mulching Workshop in my own front yard. It’s been nine months, and I’ve learned a few things about managing this new bed.

Rabbits love it. It doesn’t have the protection my fully fenced in back yard has, so they nibble at everything that tempts them. I’ve lost my beans, the lower branches of my cosmos, the sunflower plants, and a few other hapless transplants. Next year I will have to plant only those things that are of no interest to bunnies.

Weeds love it. We’ve had so much rain this year that this bed has become home for every sort of weed imaginable. This is undoubtedly because of the material used to form the sheets of mulch; any viable seeds in the mix had the perfect conditions to germinate. I’m hopeful that next year will be less arduous.

Above-the-ground plants love it. I couldn’t plant any below ground crops because there was still significant composting to occur, but anything that likes to be in nice warm sunny soil with plenty of moisture and nutrition did very well.

Here are some photos from start to finish.

Winning Garden 2012!

The Edmonton Horticultural Society holds an annual contest to determine the city’s finest gardens in twelve different categories. Anyone who has the entry fee can participate, and this year I threw my tilley hat in the ring in the “vegetable garden” category.

To my surprise and delight, I won first place. My Mom’s first response was to ask, “How many entries were there?” So like my Mom.

In any case, here are a few pictures.

Transplanting Tomato Seedlings

36 carefully transplanted tomatoes

Today was transplant day, which means that I carefully moved 36 tomato seedlings to their new pots. This isn’t difficult, but it is tedious. Also known as pricking out, transplanting is an important step in growing plants from seed.

I started by filling three dozen three inch pots with sterile, slightly moist potting soil. Each pot needed a marker to indicate which tomato it held, so I cut 36 tags from a plastic yogurt tub and labeled each one.

After making a deep hole in the soil of the new pots, I carefully lifted each tomato plant from the bottom using an escargot fork (and you thought you didn’t have any use for an escargot fork?). I only touch the seedlings on their cotyledon leaves, as damage to the stem or first set of leaves can stunt the growth of the plant.

It’s really important to plant the tomato seedlings as deep as possible – this allows them to develop strong roots. I’ll have another chance to transplant them to a larger pot in about 3 weeks, and I’ll plant them even deeper at that time.

Upcycling Pots for Seedlings

Toilet Paper Pots

I’m forever looking for ways to reuse things I have around the house when it comes time to sow my spring seeds. I use anything I can get my hands on from yogurt cups to take-out containers.

This year I decided to try making small paper planters from toilet paper rolls.

Each roll can be cut in half to make two planters – tiny little planters suitable for some of the seedlings I’ll sow last, like lettuce and morning glory.

Fold the tp rolls flat then again so that they become square-ish.  Cut them in half then make a 1cm slice along each fold. Fold these slits as you would to close a box. Flip and fill.